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This morning the Lord spoke to me about my default position in a crisis. He let me know that what I choose is very, very important.
God is the only God who, when I look into His eyes, I understand who I am. He gives me a revelation of how greatly He values me. How treasured I am. He makes me alive. His life fills me with love, with light, with hope, with joy. I don’t get that when I look in the mirror. I only see what’s wrong, what’s missing, and what’s broken.
When I come to Him, He does not show me what’s wrong or missing. He simply begins to fill me with Himself and there is nothing wrong or missing or broken in Him. He shows me I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Beauty for my ashes. The oil of joy for my sadness.
When I come to Him, He does not show me what’s wrong or missing or broken in you, either. He shows me His great joy and delight in you. He shows me His heart that is huge with love for you. He shows me His great faith that you will come closer, with a whole heart, to know Him. Love believes all things. There is faith in God. He planted it in us. His faith that we would respond to Him is what led Jesus to the cross. His compelling love is why Jesus laid down His life so the Father would have His heart’s delight, which is us. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son.
When I’m challenged in my life, my default response is to start searching my heart, listing my failures, recounting my sins, seeking my place of repentance. I cannot see His heart. I do not know His word about me or my situation. I cannot feel His love. Condemnation and confusion become my food. In a crisis, I rarely see His heart for others. Usually, strife and frustration come into my relationships. Peace and joy flee. This position of looking to my self, leaning on my strength or understanding is not God’s way for me when I am in trouble.
My other default in a crisis is to look for an enemy. I begin looking for what the enemy is doing in my life. Questioning, searching him out, focusing on him instead of Jesus. Stepping off the narrow path of God’s leading, I venture into a murky, smelly swamp looking for the evil force I know is hiding to ambush me. I think if I can identify him, I can conquer him. Shushing God when He tries to get my attention saying, “ Just a minute, can’t you see I’m busy here? I’ll be right with you,” as I continue my quest for understanding the swamp.
Neither one of these responses leads to life. The only response I should ever have is to run into my heavenly Father’s arms. To seek Jesus. To wait for the still small voice to speak. Because I cannot know He’s working in me through the crisis if I do not go to Him. Sometimes He wants to teach me strategy. Sometimes it’s faith and patience. Sometimes it’s to reveal how big and good He is. Or to show me how much authority I have in Jesus. And sometimes He wants to tell me something about Him I never even dreamed of before. Something beyond my understanding.
I forget that everything in my life is an invitation to a conversation with God. He waits for me to show up. To confirm I’m choosing Him. That my heart is focused on His heart. That He matters to me. That I will listen. I will wait humbly before Him for power from on high. Submitting to God and resisting the enemy driving him out. The Father sees in the darkness so I don’t really need to. I simply need to listen for God to tell me what I’m to do. What I’m to resist. What I’m to cast out. Where I need repentance. Where I need worship.
I can only get what I need from spending time with God. His answers are bigger than what’s inside of me. He is of heaven and I have no frame of reference for what’s in Him. I can only see what’s in Him when I stop, ask, seek, and knock. My need is a temporary affliction. His answer builds a permanent, unshakable foundation under my feet. Someone said that Jesus was a master at changing the conversation. The apostles would ask about something and Jesus would start talking about a completely different topic. He does that to me. I have a need. I ask for a provision. He starts talking about flowers, or a city on a hill, or water faucets.
I have to turn the care of my situation over to Him before I can let my curiosity loose to follow His new topic. When I seek to see Him, looking down this narrow path, I look up and He’s there. When I see Him, I see everything I need, every single thing is in Him. HE is what I need. And He dwells in me. I have everything I need, I just didn’t see it or believe it or experience it. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of the unseen. With faith and patience, I inherit and experience what is already mine because He is mine. I am my beloved’s and He is mine.
This mystery of you and I is a quest to find and unravel clues of our uniqueness. To discover God in the evidence of His intention–in nature, in creation, in us.
Our God is a spiritual being and so are we, but we don’t always see how to navigate the land of spiritual life. Malevolent forces push us, stealing truth. Shifting our focus, stealing the wonder of who God is so we never find the wonder of who we are. Darkness batters us and we cannot see the power of God. We cannot see the power of us. The power of goodness, of love, of faith, of beauty. The loudest, most angry, manipulative people are the ones who are the emptiest of God’s beautiful truth.
We, the seers, are also called to be the Speakers of this truth. Created with power to speak to others of their light and life and blessing and call it forth. It is only dormant. It is not dead. Like the dry bones that became an army, empty people are filled with beautiful seeds of potential. All the seeds God planted in them can be watered by us. We can speak to the beautiful things we see in another. Speak life. Whisper God’s secrets of love and glory and wonder that is in them – that is their true design. We can ask God for His words to pour over them. The water from heaven that flows through our mouths, drips from our lips, is powerful to raise people from the dead into an army of lovers of God. We are in a love war. A spiritual battle. For the unveiling of glory, wonder and beauty in the earth.
When all we see is what’s missing. Lacking. Wrong in another, then that’s all they can see too. We must be believers in them. In God’s purposes for them. We must see beyond, into God’s truth for them. And speak it. We speak this mystery of their beauty to them in words of blessing. We speak it with them and for them to God in prayer. Love demands we act on their behalf.
The ministry of reconciliation is more than issuing an invitation, it is standing on behalf of the one and speaking light and life and blessing until the daystar rises in them. Until they see with new eyes. Until they rise in newness of life. Until the glory rises on them in power as they become the sons and daughters of their Heavenly Father, Abba.
Jealousy, another malicious force that keeps us from seeing the beauty in another, is a manifestation of fear. It is the core fear that we are nothing. That we do not matter. It lives loudly and drives mercilessly because we do not see and do not know our own wonderful design. It’s based on the ugliest of lies.
We are each, full of a unique specialness that is ours alone. The true mystery quest is to find God so we can see ourselves in our true glory and wonder. So we can understand we own this specialness, then we have power to shine.
We can help each other on this journey. We can call forth the light in each other. Ignore the dark, broken, unfinished parts and speak God’s truth that grows big and heals, finishes and completes life in us. In our inward parts. God’s truth that expands outward, filling the earth with glory. Love. Beauty.
God’s story is glorious, majestic, powerful and full of life that cannot die. It is for us and in us. His glory touches us. Fills us. And we are glorious, too. Everything you need to see about the mystery of you is in Jesus’ eyes. Seek His face and you will see the glory, beauty, and truth that is you. Never forget that you are God’s wildest dream and He always delights in you.
Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner. Max Lucado
God has worked in my heart for years on this. He reminds me of people I have, intentionally, forgotten. People who hurt me or offended me. People I didn’t want to remember. People I didn’t want to forgive. People who made me put my hands on my hips and stamp my foot and say, “they don’t deserve my forgiveness!”
When I gave God permission to create a clean heart in me, when I asked, even sought Him, for a whole heart He came in and started rooting around opening boxes and dirty little bags I didn’t know were there.
I have a great capacity for ignoring ugly and painful things. Whenever I am overwhelmed by them I pretend they aren’t there. I push them into a far corner of my heart and walk away. Once I’ve done my stamping dance of unforgiveness, I never look back. Until God.
Until the day Jesus came knocking on the door of my heart wanting to come in and be closer to me. He asked to come share a meal and to be friends. He asked to be invited to the inside of me. It was years before I trusted Him enough, before I was brave enough, to let Him into the place of my hiddenness. I’ve come to see that while I was ignoring pain and ugly, fear nibbled at the edges and made me ignore God’s call as well.
Jesus stands at the door of the hearts of his followers. He knocks on the door of those of us who’ve said, Yes, at some time in our lives. He patiently waits to be invited inside. Waits for us to choose more. To bravely open the door.
Following Jesus into forgiveness is a big thing. As a model for walking in love, Jesus was pretty much unrivaled.
“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Jesus
On most days, I am not like Jesus. Oh heavenly Father, forgive my dark heart that does not want forgiveness for my enemies but wants to call down fire upon them instead. That wants to see them pay for their sins against me. My dark heart that desires vengeance for the pain they brought into my life.
And I see Jesus, not raising a sound against those persecuting Him, spitting on Him, wounding Him and bringing Him great mockery and pain.
I hear Him say, “No one takes my life. I freely give it.”
I see His heart, His trust in His Father’s intentions. His trust that the future of His obedience is glorious because He knows His Father’s heart toward Him. And He knows if there had been any other way to forgive the world, Jesus would have been spared the cross.
As Jesus hung on the cross, He forgave all those who had put Him there. He asked the Father to forgive them, too. I believe it was because He saw the Father’s heart for those created in His image. Those He wanted to call sons and daughters. Those He longed to hear cry, “Abba, Father.”
Out of this great love, forgiveness was born and redemption came alive. As He forgave us, as He released our sins from us, as He chose to not hold our sins against us, so we go and do likewise.
Bless those who spitefully use you.
It’s bigger than ‘committing’ them to God because that feels like permission to hold onto a dark little part of me that wants them to get what’s coming to them. Thinking surely God will discipline or punish them for what they’ve done.
When I bless my enemies, I must come to God with an open heart and open hands asking Him to richly pour out His love upon them. Asking Him to pour out His mercy, hope, grace, and goodness upon those who brought the greatest pain into my experience. Only then do I understand the heart of God who wants no one to perish. Who showers goodwill on all.
To share in the sufferings of Christ is, perhaps, to die to my heart of vengeance. To fall in love with the Father and want His love and kindness that leads to repentance to be experienced by those I see as my enemies.
To follow Jesus I must forgive. The Way of Jesus is a path of continual forgiveness of my sins. Of the sins of others. The Way of Jesus leads to life—to freedom from carrying the burden of others’ sins.
God cares deeply about our wounds. We are precious to Him. He gathers our tears in bottles, but He doesn’t see my enemy as an enemy. It is not His goodness in me that cries out for vengeance and judgment on the ones who hurt me. It is anger. It is the voice of pain and injustice crying out to be heard. To be seen. To be vindicated.
Am I not willing to take the hurt and give it to God so another can be set free from the flames of hell? Set free from the torment of the true enemy of God, the devil, and his lies? So another could be led to repentance by the kindness of God in me and through me?
Or must I demand every last coin owed from the one who wounded me?
Am I choosing to not walk into the glory before me but stay in the shadow of the earthly realm where an eye for an eye rules?
The way of Jesus demands purity of heart. At some point, He shows me what I can’t take into the kingdom. Things I carry that don’t fit through the door. Things that bring death not life.
Father, forgive them, please don’t hold their sins against them. They don’t know what they’re doing. Father, forgive me for holding their sins against them. For demanding they pay when Jesus has already paid the price for all our sins.
To fully receive forgiveness, I must walk in forgiveness. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
I cannot walk in the kingdom without forgiving. I think He let me visit so I would get a glimpse of His glorious intentions. Or maybe when I was too young to know better, He allowed me safe passage for a bit. But as I follow Jesus, He begins to speak more seriously to me. He lets me know I cannot inhabit or inherit my place in the kingdom without forgiving people. I cannot hold their sins against them. I am not allowed to withhold forgiveness. Jesus’ sacrifice brought enough forgiveness into the world to cover us all. If I follow Him. If I love Him, I will see this sacrifice was enough. Enough for me to forgive and bless my enemies because when I was an enemy of God, He forgave me. He said, “Father, forgive her, she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Do not hold her sins against her. Hold them against me. Let my sacrifice be enough to make her whole, free, and alive.”
Forgiving my enemies makes room in their lives for God to come in and destroy the foundations of the devil’s work. It allows me to speak freedom and life and light over people, families, cities, and communities.
Help us to be people of forgiveness, Lord. People of patience, hope, and compassion. A living testimony of God’s love. Show me how to pray for all people, that your compassion and kindness would come to them. Show me how to be a person of reconciliation introducing others to Jesus. To Abba Father.
Give me a heart for all those You love but I don’t. The unloveable ones who frighten me, who hurt me, who criticize and misjudge me. The ones who accuse me, even of things I never did. The ones who throw rocks because they don’t understand me or are jealous. The ones who mock me because it’s easier than getting to know me. Help me, Father, to stay nestled in your heart, feeling the beat of your love for all. Help my heart to beat that way, too.
The other day I felt God prompting me to send a web design proposal to an organization that I knew needed a website. I put it together and sent it off to the administrator, I’ll call him Mr. Brown. A few hours later he replied.
“ We are; in fact, currently completing building a new website which we hope to have online in the next few weeks. We will retain your information for future reference.”
It sort of felt like a slap. Maybe it was the “in fact” he threw in there. Or the tinny sound of a canned response. Or maybe it was just me. Rejection is not something I do very well. And really, it was God’s idea in the first place. I wondered why God would have me create a proposal for a job He knew I wasn’t going to get. I felt a bit rejected by Mr. Brown. And as I experienced that feeling swirl around me, then rise up and threaten to overwhelm me, I began to take authority over it in Jesus name. I began to resist it as a dark thought and spirit, not from God.
Immediately after I did that, I saw a picture of Jesus giving me a high five. Grinning and slapping me on the back for what a good job I’d done on the proposal. Telling me how proud of me He was. For the next few minutes, I saw myself throughout all the years of my childhood bringing my schoolwork home and seeing Jesus there, grabbing it out of my hands so excited about what I had done. He waved it about, showing everyone. He put it on the refrigerator making sure whoever was around saw it, and He kept saying, “Look at what my girl did! Isn’t she something?”
I saw that every single effort I’d ever made was not missed by Him. He saw, He loved, and He delighted in every piece of work I’d ever done. He was excited with me when I chose a purple crayon for the grass in my picture at age five. He never asked me why I didn’t use green, as though I’d made a questionable design decision. He just really enjoyed looking at my purple grass.
There was such exuberance in His joy of my work and of me. I saw a kaleidoscope of the school years go by and saw Him excited and pleased every time I did my work. Every single time, I delighted Him. Every time I tried something new, whether I failed or succeeded, He was there, His eyes lighting up, His smile so bright, His hand up always ready to give me a high-five. His excitement was tangible. His feet dancing with His passion for me and every single thing I did. Every single day.
I didn’t know that about Him. I didn’t know that about my work. I didn’t know that each one of my efforts had so much value. I finally, deeply, understood that I am always, every single day, completely accepted and loved by God. And so are you.
“The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love, he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you, as joyful as people at a festival.” Zephaniah 3:17 GNT
This is an ugly story and this is your warning.
If you are artistic or creative and see stories come to life, this will be icky and you have my permission to walk away before I get going.
When people tell stories, the pictures form in my mind. In color even. The only way I can stop it is to plug my ears and hum a song. It makes it quite uncomfortable during dinner when someone starts telling a blow-by-blow account of their latest surgery. God knows this about me so I was quite surprised one day when God told me this ugly story. He has only given me beautiful or fun pictures. Since this one was so awful, I knew it must be important and I should pay attention. It is an image of death.
The ugly story begins…
I saw a woman whose body was puffy. She had a yellow-green tint to her skin. I recognized she was sick and close to dying. Then it became gross as I realized she looked like that because her body was filled with pus. And suddenly, I knew I was seeing myself. I was shocked and wanted to move away from this image, but God encouraged me to keep looking.
I asked Him what it meant and watched as Jesus stepped up close to her. He reached toward her with His palm up and His hand open. I saw something very small come out of her heart and fall into his hand. He turned and showed it to me. It was a tiny sliver.
All at once I understood that a single act of unforgiveness had infected me with death. The wound I buried deep inside and would not let go of was literally killing me. No matter that what was done to me was wrong. That it was not my fault. That I didn’t deserve it. Or even that the person who hurt me did it intentionally and it was unjust. It was my unforgiveness that kept the disease growing. That kept my body trying to expel it in the way it was designed to do. But I resisted, keeping the death growing inside me.
When I allowed Jesus to come close and trusted his hand in my life, he took the sliver and there was healing. I watched as life came back into my body. As the puffiness left and my flesh became pink and healthy.
God made me see that no matter how small I think it is or how deeply I’ve buried it, some things will kill me. Unforgiveness is one of those things.
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 NASB
Be gentle with one another and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember the Lord forgave you. So you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 TLB
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not giving you our whole hearts. Forgive us for not asking you to come close enough to heal us, Jesus. Today, we repent and invite Jesus into the deep places of our hearts. Come in with your love and compassion. Your patience and gentleness. Come in and show us where we need to forgive and give us the grace to forgive those who hurt us. Those who rejected us. Those who brought pain crashing into our worlds. We give you the pain, the anger, and the offense that we’ve buried so deep and tried to forget. Make us clean and new this day. Help us to forgive ourselves for not being able to let go and forgive others. Help us to forgive you, God, because you did not stop them from hurting us. We seek you for the grace we need to be people who forgive. Help us to realize how much you have forgiven us so we can more easily forgive others.
For those who have cursed us and who consistently come against us in word or deed, we forgive them and take the further step to bless them. We ask that you would bless them with your love and purposes for their lives. We bless them with your salvation to the uttermost. With your abundant life. With the blessings of their Heavenly Father who calls them and empowers them to become sons and daughters of God. No longer orphans but knowing the God who calls Himself their Abba Father.
Thank you for the power of your love for us that would not be denied, even when it meant the cross for Jesus, so we might become your children and know your name. That we might see we are your wildest dream. Give us hearts to seek you. Give us whole hearts to love you and follow you into your wondrous kingdom. We ask all these things in Jesus Name, Amen.